My Ranking Points
Here’s the eighth chapter of my latest novella.
STEEL AND BONE
RONAN STARED OUT THE porthole, nausea swelling in the pit of his stomach: he was woozy with the rocking of the ship as it danced across the waves. He dug the fingernails of his unmarred hand into the wooden wall. I’m not going to hurl, he thought. Especially not in front of Kai.
His eyes flickered over the motley crew, and a realization struck him. For a second Ronan saw the group not as thieves and murderers — servants of Evil, as his father would have said — but rather for what they were: children playing at war. True, their eyes were ancient, but they were no older than he was.
Kai drummed his fingers on the wooden table. “We’ll be approaching Ooty in forty minutes,” he said. “We’ll dock at the harbor, and then stop for supplies at the marketplace. After that we set sail again.”
“We should split up,” said Max. “Cover more ground that way.”
The blond girl nodded her agreement. “What about we split into two teams: two on one and three on the other?” While Ronan said nothing, he agreed with her. Local thieves tended to prey on lone travelers rather than groups of voyagers.
Kai laced his hands together, and Ronan was startled at the finesse of his fingers: pale and slender, without scars. One would’ve thought a boy so wicked had claws dripping with blood, or at the very least an infected nail.
Ronan’s gaze traveled to his mutilated hand: missing a golden band the finger the ring had been slipped through. Rage ripped through his veins, and he gritted his teeth. Once this damned mission was over and he reclaimed his title, he would grant a reward to whoever would give him Kai’s head on a silver platter.
“I’ll go alone,” said Max. “I’ve something to take care of.” There was a strange fire in his eyes, and his mouth was pursed.
“I don’t care about what you’ll be doing,” said Kai. “As long as you come back alive and with whiskey, that’s good enough for me.” He rubbed his temples. “Barely three days, and I’m already feeling the effects of withdrawal.”
Max laughed. “It’s settled, then.”
Kai turned to Ronan. “How do you feel about working with the lovely Cosima here?”
A shudder went up Ronan’s spine. Why the heII did the girl’s name sound familiar? He shut his eyes for a quick second, lost in thinking.
The blond girl’s face was ashy. The expression on her features reminded Ronan of the witch his father had ordered burned to the stake: terrified, with nowhere to run as the flames rose higher and licked at her skin. When she spoke, her voice was trembling. “Kai — ”
Kai’s tone was sultry, carrying through the room. “Tell me, Ronan,” he began. “You don’t recognize her? At all?”
Max’s eyes widened. “Now’s not the time, Kai,” he said. “Tell him later.”
The world spun, and Ronan was sure that this time around the disturbance wasn’t from seasickness. “Tell me what?” he asked. “Gods, just get it over with.”
“Ronan Camry,” said Kai. “Meet Cosima Neris.”
Cosima Neris: a name that wrought agony into Ronan’s heart. On that night two years ago, he had come to associate those words with his father’s broken body and blood spilling from a gilded throne. He shut his eyes. Afterwards all he could remember were the screams.
Screams resonating from his throat.
Ronan howled, and then leapt at Cosima, delighting in the terror in her eyes: mimicking the expression his father had on his features before the blade swung down. With his good hand, he pressed his knuckles down her neck. “You will pay,” he hissed. “You’ll pay, you little bi — ”
Is this what your father would want?
She gurgled and gasped for breath, her fingers clawing at his. Her nails were sharp, but the pain was numbed by his anger.
Guilt ate at his chest, and he released his grip on her throat. Where he had strangled her bloomed violet bruises: the very shade of the flowers his father gifted to his mother while she was still alive. Images broke loose through the dam in his mind that held his memory back.
Never stoop to their level, his father had said.
Kai’s face revealed nothing but a tinge of amusement. “So it’s settled then,” he said. “Ronan and Cosima — you look for disguises that could get us through the prison.” He paused. “No killing each other.”
The tag list is always open! Also, if you’ve any feedback: theories, suggestions, and possible pairings — feel free to mention them in the “Comments” section below. Your kind words mean the world to me.
Thank you so much for the shoutout! But your writing is far, far better!
Thanks for your feedback, guys!
But oh my goodness — I’ve just realized there was a grammatical error in this chapter. The sentence in which “missing a golden band the finger the ring had been slipped through” should be “missing a golden band and the finger the ring had been slipped through”.
I apologize for the mistake. The next time around I write a chapter, I’ll be sure to double-check my input on Microsoft Word before posting.
Thank you as well for understanding. 🙂